Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Thoughts About Washington State
By now, we're all aware that the Washington State capitol building was host to a plethora of holiday displays, including a nativity scene and an atheist sign. Now that the hoopla has died down, I had some thoughts that I decided to share.
First off, I would like to thank Gov. Gregoire for sticking to her guns and not caving in to demands from Xian fundamentalists that the free speech of atheists be suppressed. This was courageous on her part. That said, she put herself into a tough situation by allowing the government to become entangled in religious speech in the first place. Once the government opens the doors to one religious viewpoint, it must open the doors to all. This creates an impossible burden, however, as it is simply not possible for everyone to get their say. Some one will always be left out, and this creates a de facto endorsement of some religious ideas over others. The only way to not create this situation is to not let it get started in the first place, which would also satisfy actual separation of church and state by not entangling the state with religion in the first place. This protects the rights of all of us.
Apparently, this stance is untenable for some Xians. For seeking to uphold the rights of all, I've been derided as an intolerant bigot. Yes, you read that right. I'm intolerant because I believe that church and state should be separate and that the state should not entangle itself with religion and should not open up fora for this purpose. Of course, what's really happening is that these Xians can not defend their position, so they resort to name-calling. It's a tried and true tactic to shout down your opponent with such labeling in an attempt to shame the person from the field of debate.
But, I think for some Xians this is just part one of a three pronged attack. If they get to speak out and the atheists don't show up, they win. The other two prongs are as follows: if they speak out and the atheists speak out as well, they get to denounce the atheists (no matter what message the atheists use) as a bunch of zealots that are seeking to take away everyone's religion. (See, it's not wrong to want to put up a nativity scene, that's normal - but wanting to criticize it is zealotry.) Heads I win, tails you lose, and if you don't flip the coin you're a bigot. I'm sure Jesus would be proud of such despicable tactics.